THEOSOPHY, Vol. 15, No. 6, April, 1927
(Pages 250-254; Size: 19K)
(Number 4 of a 103-part series)



UNDER title of Seven Great Discoveries in Twentieth Century Physics, Dr. R. A. Millikan has an article in Science News-Letter, for October 30, 1926, which we reprint practically complete in parallel with extracts from the Secret Doctrine. Dr. Millikan is a noted physicist, discoverer of the famous "Millikan," or cosmic, rays, and director of the Norman Bridge Laboratory of Physics at Pasadena, California.

A prophecy is in no manner invalidated by ignorance of its existence, and the general ignorance of, or indifference to, the Secret Doctrine on the part of scientific men cannot abrogate the fact that it already has "become the text-book of science" -- insofar as physics and chemistry are concerned.

Professor Millikan, 1926:
H. P. Blavatsky, 1888:
Modern science has no one consistent scheme of interpretation of physical phenomena, and has become wise enough to see and admit that it has none. The stupendous blunder of 19th century physics lay in supposing that it had, in a certain sense, reached finality, that it had found a fairly consistent and universally applicable scheme of interpretation of the physical world -- a set of laws in conformity with which all phenomena must everywhere take place -- a scheme too, which made it unlikely that qualitatively new physical phenomena still remained to be discovered.

There are seven different categories of fundamentally new experimental facts in physics, all of which have been discovered within this single generation -- the last thirty years -- and the majority of which are inexplicable in terms of nineteenth century modes of thought in physics.

Thus the whole structure of Modern Science is built on a kind of "mathematical abstraction," ... and on effects, the shadowy and elusive will-o'-the-wisps of a something entirely unknown to and beyond the reach of Science, ... (I, 670.)

It is only in the XXth century that portions, if not the whole, of the present work will be vindicated. (II, 442.)

The revolution produced in old chemistry by Avogadro was the first page in the Volume of New Chemistry. Mr. Crookes has now turned the second page, and is boldly pointing to what may be the last. For once protyle accepted and recognized ... Chemistry will have virtually ceased to live: it will reappear in its reincarnation as New Alchemy, or METACHEMISTRY. (I, 622.)

(Editor's note: Protyle was the ancient name for a suggested homogeneous constituent of all matter, now answered to by the electron, whose discovery made possible the modern transmutation of elements, the old dream of alchemy.)

The first of these was the spectacular discovery of X-rays by Roentgen in 1895, a discovery which not only showed how little man knew at that time about ether physics, but which furnished the technique with the aid of which a whole new sub-atomic world -- the world of the electron -- was brought to light within the next few years ...

The third new phenomenon was that of radio-activity, which changed man's whole conception of the nature and potentialities of matter. It shattered the nineteenth century notion of a world made up of eternal unchangeable elements, and revealed a dynamic in place of a static universe -- a universe living, changing, evolving continuously, even in its chemical elements. Radioactive change is still a mystery inexplicable in terms of the mechanical pictures upon which we set such store in the nineteenth century.

(Note: Radio-activity was discovered about 1896. Compare opposite.) by one facts and processes in Nature's workshops are permitted to find their way into the exact Sciences, while mysterious help is given to rare individuals in unravelling its arcana. It is at the close of great Cycles, in connection with racial development, that such events generally take place. We are at the very close of the cycle of 5,000 years of the present Aryan Kaliyuga; and between this time and 1897 there will be a large rent made in the Veil of Nature, and materialistic science will receive a death-blow. (I, 612.)

There is an inherent law ... by which Nature correlates her geometrical forms, and later, also, her compound elements ... It is a fundamental law in Occultism, that there is no rest or cessation of motion in Nature ... the change of substance going hand in hand with that of form. (I, 97.)

The Secret Doctrine teaches the progressive development of everything, worlds as well as atoms; and this stupendous development has neither conceivable beginning nor imaginable end. (Commentary Stanza I.)

The fourth revolutionary discovery was that of the invalidity of the great nineteenth century principle of the conservation of matter; for not only are there the best of theoretical reasons, due to Einstein, but excellent experimental grounds as well, for now believing that the mass of the stars is actually being transformed away into light and heat and radiated away into the outer reaches of space, where who knows but that it may be continually giving birth to new worlds. This last, however, is not yet a discovery -- merely an inevitable speculation, stimulated by the discovery of the interconvertability of matter and radiation.

Shall we say that Force is "moving matter," or "matter in motion," and a manifestation of energy; or that matter and force are the phenomenal differentiated aspects of the one primary, undifferentiated Cosmic Substance? (I, 554.)

...that, which is called "energy" or "force" in Science ... cannot be energy alone; for it is the substance of the world, its soul, the all-permeant "Sarvaga." (I, 582.)

To occult Science, force and matter are only two sides of the same SUBSTANCE. (I, 623.)

Upon inaugurating an active period ... an expansion of this Divine essence ... occurs in obedience to eternal and immutable law, and the ... visible universe is the ultimate result of the long chain of cosmical forces thus progressively set in motion. In like manner, when the passive condition is resumed, a contraction of the Divine essence takes place, and the previous work of creation is gradually and progressively undone. (I, 4.)

The second discovery -- that of the electron -- is probably the most far-reaching one ever made thus far in the history of science though it is not particularly destructive of nineteenth century points of view.

(Nevertheless, nineteenth century science did teach the indivisibility of matter. Ed. Note.)

It is on the doctrine of the illusive nature of matter, and the infinite divisibility of the atom, that the whole science of Occultism is built. (Addenda Vol. I, "The Masks of Science."

(It is now suspected that the electron in turn is divisible. See Science, June 25, 1926. Ed. Note.)

The fifth new phenomenon is that ether-waves can communicate to electrons which absorb them an energy which is proportional to their frequency, and quite independent of their intensity. This is a phenomenon of exceeding importance and of wide generality but as yet, and probably forever, completely inexplicable in terms of nineteenth century ether physics. It, added to another new set of facts known as the Compton Effect, named from Professor A. H. Compton of the University of Chicago, seems to require that radiant energy, at least when it is of sufficiently short wave length, shoots through space in the form of discrete entities sometimes called "light-darts." We are in the strange position of having to retain all our ether physics -- our wave theory -- to explain, or describe, all the old phenomena, but to add to it an entirely unlike theory -- a kind of corpuscular theory -- to explain the new phenomena.

The sixth discovery has to do with the mechanism of emission of ether waves which we thought in the nineteenth century that we knew quite as much about as we know of the mechanism of emission of sound waves by a tuning fork. Indeed we thought the two mechanisms were essentially the same. Now we know that in some completely mysterious way, in simple atoms like hydrogen the jumping or falling of an electron from one energy level to another gives rise to an emitted ray the frequency of which is proportional to the change of energy which the electron underwent in its jump. We have simply given up the hope of getting any mechanical picture of how it happens. Not only that, but we have recently found that two electrons may jump simultaneously to two new positions inside an atom and integrate the combined energy of the two jumps into a single mono-chromatic light wave. Indeed an atom seems to be endowed with the strange power of integrating the energy of an atomic shudder of whatever sort into a mono-chromatic ether wave. The birth of a light ray as well as its transmission through space is still an event of intense interest to the physicist for the very reason that he knows so little about it -- that it baffles description in terms of any sort of a mechanical picture that he can devise.

The alleged ethereal waves of Space. (Addenda Vol. I, "Is Gravitation a Law?")

Science only errs in believing that, because it has detected in vibratory waves the proximate cause of these phenomena, it has, therefore, revealed ALL that lies beyond the threshold of Sense ... those etheric tremors, are not, as asserted by Science, set up by the vibrations of the molecules of known bodies ... but that we must seek for the ultimate causes of light, heat, etc., etc., in MATTER existing in super-sensuous states ... Light and heat are the ghost or shadow of matter in motion. (I, 515.)

Undulatory or corpuscular theory -- it is all one. (I, 528.)

LIGHT--An Alchemist would say it was a spiritual secretion -- and would be laughed at. (I, 509.)

To know what is light, and whether it is an actual substance or a mere undulation of the "ethereal medium," Science has first to learn what are in reality Matter, Atom, Ether, Force. Now, the truth is, that it knows nothing of any of these. (I, 482.)

...the question is, whether the latter (the undulatory theory) is so firmly established as not to be liable to be dethroned as was its predecessor? (I, 579.)

Official Science knows nothing to this day of the constitution of ether ... it can neither be analyzed by scientific apparatus, appreciated, nor even conceived by "scientific imagination," unless the possessors thereof study the Occult Sciences. (I, 487.)

The knowledge of the real (not the hypothetical) nature of Ether, or rather of the Akâsa ... can alone lead to the knowledge of Forces. (I, 587.)

...Science finds itself absolutely compelled to accept the "hypothetical" Ether and to try to explain it on the materialistic grounds of atomo-mechanical laws. This attempt has led directly to the most fatal discrepancies and radical inconsistencies between the assumed nature of Ether and its physical actions. A second proof is found in the many contradictory statements about the atom -- the most metaphysical object in creation. (I, 485.)

The seventh discovery constituting twentieth century physics is perhaps the most strikingly revolutionary of them all. It is the discovery that the very foundations of mechanics when looked at microscopically are unsound -- the discovery that apparently all periodic motions are resolvable into circular and linear coordinates which cannot progress continuously as demanded by Newtonian laws, but which are built up out of definite unitary elements. (That is to say, all motion consists of a series of pulsations or vibrations. Ed. Note.)

It is one of the fundamental dogmas of Esoteric Cosmogony, that during the Kalpas (or æons) of life, MOTION, which, during the periods of Rest "pulsates and thrills through every slumbering atom" ... assumes an evergrowing tendency ... to circular movement. (I, 116.)

The expanding and contracting of the Web -- i.e., the world stuff or atoms -- expresses here the pulsatory movement; for it is the regular contraction and expansion of the infinite and shoreless Ocean of that which we may call the noumenon of matter emanated by Swâbhâvat, which causes the universal vibration of atoms. (I, 84.)

The waves and undulations of Science are all produced by atoms propelling their molecules into activity from within. Atoms fill the immensity of Space, and by their continuous vibration are that MOTION which keeps the wheels of Life perpetually going. It is that inner work that produces the natural phenomena called the correlation of Forces. (I, 633.)

Professor Millikan concludes:
We had not come quite as near sounding the depths of the universe in 1900, even in the matter of fundamental physical principles as we thought we had. Today we can still look out with a sense of wonder and reverence upon the fundamental elements of the physical world as they have been revealed to us in the twentieth century. ... We have learned to work with new enthusiasm and new hope and new joy because there is still so much we do not understand and because we have actually succeeded in our lifetime in finding more new relations in physics than had come to light in all preceding ages put together, and because the stream of discovery as yet shows no sign of abatement.
In The Ocean of Theosophy, 1893, William Q. Judge remarks:
The first 5,000 years of Kali Yuga will end between the years 1897 and 1898 ... As 1897-98 are not far off, the scientific men of to-day will have an opportunity of seeing whether the close of the five-thousand-year cycle will be preceded or followed by any convulsions or great changes political, scientific or physical, or all of these combined. Cyclic changes are now proceeding as year after year the souls from prior civilizations are being incarnated in this period when liberty of thought and action are not so restricted in the West as they have been in the past by dogmatic religious prejudice and bigotry. And at the present time we are in a cycle of transition, when, as a transition period should indicate, everything in philosophy, religion and society is changing.
Despite the amazing facts partly outlined above, the moral backs of Theosophical class-teachers ache under the Sisyphus stone of prevailing popular ideas upon science. The views of the younger generation are drawn from insufficiently educated, though earnest and industrious teachers, struggling with out-of-date and meagre text-books; those of their elders, from that very nineteenth-century science whose complacencies have been so ably denuded by Dr. Millikan; views crystallized in minds for the most part incapable of that reversal of the old mode of thought which is a prerequisite to the true understanding of either Theosophy or present-day science.

Between Theosophy and scientific fact there is no conflict and never was; the difficulties with scientific theory and opinion -- a very different matter -- are fast resolving themselves. It is the "lag" of the mass mind behind its leaders which creates the burden -- for the really scientific educator as well as the Theosophist.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


The chemist goes to the laya or zero point of the plane of matter with which he deals, and then stops short. The physicist or the astronomer counts by billions of miles beyond the nebulæ, and then they also stop short; the semi-initiated Occultist will represent this laya-point to himself as existing on some plane which, if not physical, is still conceivable to the human intellect. But the full Initiate knows that the ring "Pass-Not" is neither a locality nor can it be measured by distance, but that it exists in the absoluteness of infinity. In this "Infinity" of the full Initiate there is neither height, breadth nor thickness, but all is fathomless profundity, reaching down from the physical to the "para-para-metaphysical." In using the word "down," essential depth -- "nowhere and everywhere" -- is meant, not depth of physical matter. --S.D. I, p. 131.

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